Lib Dem criticises Government over ‘broken promise’ on rural broadband

Julie Porksen
Julie Porksen

A Lib Dem campaigner has asked the Government to make public any impact on rural areas they anticipate following reports which raise questions about the roll-out of superfast broadband.

Recent reports in the national media suggest that the Government’s pledge to provide high-speed broadband to every home in the UK has been dropped in an attempt to save money.

It is claimed the technology will only be provided in rural areas on request because, according to a Whitehall document, ‘it is unlikely that everyone will want to be connected’.

However, this has been refuted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with a spokesman saying: “Our current plans will reach at least 95 per cent of the UK, but we want everyone to have fast broadband, so we are introducing a Universal Service Obligation to help make sure no one is left behind.”

Lib Dem Julie Pörksen, who stood for election in the Berwick constituency last May, said: “The whole point of the superfast broadband programme was to reach all rural areas; this decision not to roll out fully shows the Conservative Government really does not prioritise the needs of rural people and businesses.

“Fast internet connections are essential for everyone – from B&Bs with online bookings, to farmers filling in forms, to schoolchildren doing homework.

“Northumbrian business people I have spoken to are really angry about this decision as they were relying on broadband improving to run their businesses.”

In Januuary this year, a BT spokeswoman confirmed that in excess of 70 per cent of households in the Berwick constituency have already been upgraded and this will increase to more than 90 per cent by the end of the current plans.